History of African American Cooperative Thought

Jessica Gordon Nembhard will be presenting her new book right here in DC and at the awesome Impact Hub DC. 

Collective Courage: A History of African American Cooperative Economic Thought and Practice

Tuesday, June 3, 2014; 7 pm (doors open at 6:30pm)
Impact Hub DC
419 7th Street, NW
Presentation of a new book by Jessica Gordon Nembhard and reception. Free. 

More info:


Join us for a special book launch event to learn about the history of African American cooperative economics from a leading co-op scholar/activist, and hear local updates on ONE DC’s Black Worker’s Center and Impact Hub DC’s worker cooperative incubator.

This event is co-sponsored by The Democracy Collaborative, ONE DC, Impact Hub DC, Equal Exchange, the New Economy Working Group (IPS), and Divine Chocolate. A book-signing and reception will follow the talk.

Doors open for meet-and greet at 6:30pm, local updates and book talk starts at 7pm, followed by a booksigning and reception.

In Collective Courage , Jessica Gordon Nembhard chronicles African American cooperative business ownership and its place in the movements for Black civil rights and economic equality. Not since W. E. B. Du Bois’s 1907  Economic Co-operation Among Negro Americans  has there been a full-length, nationwide study of African American cooperatives.  Collective Courage  extends that story into the twenty-first century. Many of the players are well known in the history of the African American experience: Du Bois, A. Philip Randolph and the Ladies’ Auxiliary to the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, Nannie Helen Burroughs, Fannie Lou Hamer, Ella Jo Baker, George Schuyler and the Young Negroes’ Co-operative League, the Nation of Islam, and the Black Panther Party. Adding the cooperative movement to Black history results in a retelling of the African American experience, with an increased understanding of African American collective economic agency and grassroots economic organizing.

To tell the story, Gordon Nembhard uses a variety of newspapers, period magazines, and journals; co-ops’ articles of incorporation, minutes from annual meetings, newsletters, budgets, and income statements; and scholarly books, memoirs, and biographies. These sources reveal the achievements and challenges of Black co-ops, collective economic action, and social entrepreneurship. Gordon Nembhard finds that African Americans, as well as other people of color and low-income people, have benefitted greatly from cooperative ownership and democratic economic participation throughout the nation’s history.

Jessica Gordon Nembhard is Associate Professor of Community Justice and Social Economic Development in the Department of Africana Studies at John Jay College, City University of New York, and a member of the Grassroots Economic Organizing Collective.



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